Lawrence of Arabia
One of the greatest living leading men in the world of film, Peter O'Toole created a highly-respected career in the industry with eight Oscar nominations, three Golden Globe Awards and an Emmy Award since dumping his childhood dreams of becoming a journalist. Making his film debut in 1960s' “Kidnapped,” the Irish actor was shot to international superstardom with his first starring role in David Lean's masterpiece, “Lawrence of Arabia” (1962). As T.E. Lawrence, he won both an Oscar and Golden Globe nomination in addition to a BAFTA Film Award. He went on to attain Oscar nominations for his roles in the movies “Becket” (1964, earned a Golden Globe Award), “The Lion in Winter” (1968), “Goodbye, Mr. Chips” (1969, also won a Golden Globe Award) and “The Ruling Class” (1972). After suffering a major setback in the 1970s because of medical problems that resulted from his heavy drinking, O'Toole proved he was back on track with his next two Academy Award nominations for “The Stunt Man” (1980) and “My Favorite Year” (1982). He also nabbed an Emmy nomination for his work in the miniseries “Masada” (1981), and almost two decade later, eventually brought home the award for his work in CBS' miniseries “Joan of Arc” (1999). The recipient of a 2003 honorary Oscar for his film work, O'Toole, garnered Academy Award nominations at age 75 for his starring role as a veteran actor in “Venus” (2006). The role also brought him a Golden Globe nomination, a BAFTA Film nomination and a Screen Actors Guild nomination. In addition to film and television, O'Toole also gained an outstanding reputation for his stage work.
One of “Empire” magazine's “100 Sexiest Stars in Film History” (1995), O'Toole was married to actress Siân Phillips from 1959 to 1979. The couple shares two daughters, Kate O'Toole (actress) and Patricia O'Toole. After the marriage ended, O'Toole was romantically involved with model Karen Brown, who gave birth to his only son, Lorcan, in 1983.
O'Toole is a supporter of the Sunderland football club of the English Premiership.
Childhood and Family:
Peter James O'Toole was born on August 2, 1932, in Connemara, County Galway, Ireland. He was raised by his Irish bookmaker father, Patrick Joseph O'Toole, and a nurse who was born in Scotland, Constance Jane Eliot. They lived in Leeds, England, before the family relocated to London. As a child, the second-rate-pupil was sent to a Catholic school for several years during which time Peter earned regular whippings from nuns to correct his left-handedness.
A hard-working youth, Peter was inspired to pursue a career in journalism after a stint as a messenger and newspaper copy boy at the Yorkshire Evening News and by his mid-teens, he had worked his way up to newspaper reporter. Shortly thereafter, he discovered that journalism was not his true calling and turned to theater. Following a two-year service with the British Royal Navy where he became a radioman, Peter tried his luck at the Abbey Theatre's Drama School in Dublin, but was rejected. Eventually, in 1952, he was accepted on a scholarship at the prestigious Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA), where among his classmates were Richard Harris, Alan Bates, Albert Finney and Brian Bedford.
In December 1959, Peter married Welsh actress Siân Phillips. The couple welcomed a baby girl, Kate O'Toole, in 1961, who would later become a well-respected actress in her own right. Their second daughter, Patricia O'Toole, was born two years later in 1963. However, the marriage ended after two decades when Peter and his wife divorced in 1979. Peter also has a son name Lorcan O'Toole (born in 1983) with his ex-companion, model Karen Brown, who lived with him from 1982 to 1988.
Making his amateur stage debut with the Leed Civic Theater at the age of 17, Peter O'Toole decided to leave behind his ambition of becoming a journalist in favor of acting. As a student of RADA, the former newspaper reporter joined classmate Albert Finney in the academy's production of “As You Like It” in 1952 and after completing his two-year training, he kicked off his professional career with the Old Bristol Vic. He closed out the decade by offering an attention-getting performance as an attorney in the London stage production of “The Long and the Short and the Tall,” a role originally written for Finney. That same year, he also joined forces with producer Jules Buck to set up Keep Films.
While building his stage career, in 1956 O'Toole made his small screen debut as a soldier in an episode of the British short-lived family series “The Scarlet Pimpernel.” Four years later, he broke into the cinematic industry with a supporting role in “Kidnapped” (1960), an adaptation of the Robert Louis Stevenson classic, and also appeared in “The Savage Innocents. He was then seen in the based-on-novel “The Day They Robbed the Bank of England,” playing Captain Fitch. The blue-eyed actor, however, did not gain his screen breakthrough until David Lean hired him to play T.E. Lawrence in the director's historically-based drama, “Lawrence of Arabia” (1962), which won an astonishing seven Academy Awards, including one for Best Picture. With his bright portrayal of the flamboyant and contentious British military figure, O'Toole charmed both audiences and critics alike and was handed a Best Actor Oscar nomination in addition to a BAFTA Film award for Best British Actor. Later, he was also named Golden Globes' Most Promising Newcomer and Laurel's Top New Male Personality. Subsequently, O'Toole was catapulted to international superstar status.
Returning to the stage after the much-talk about performance, O'Toole took on the title role of Hamlet in the inaugural production of “Hamlet” at the National Theater Company before enjoying his next big screen victory with his Oscar-nominating turn of King Henry II in the Peter Glenville-directed biopic “Becket”(1964), opposite Richard Burton. The role also brought the star a Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture Actor-Drama, a Sant Jordi for Best Performance in a Foreign Film and a BAFTA nomination. Two starring roles in the 1965 movies “Lord Jim,” directed by Richard Brooks, and “What's New Pussycat,” opposite Peter Sellers, and an unaccredited voice role in the Oscar winner for Best Original Song, “The Sandpiper” (also 1965), followed before he teamed up with Audrey Hepburn for the comedy/romance “How to Steal a Million,” playing Simon Dermott. He then appeared in the John Huston drama “The Bible: In the Beginning...” (1966).
In 1967, O'Toole was reunited with actor Omar Sharif for the crime movie “The Night of the Generals” and his portrayal of General Tanz picked up a David di Donatello for Best Foreign Actor. His fine starring turn as King Henry II in “The Lion in Winter” (1968), opposite Katherine Hepburn, garnered the acclaimed actor his third Oscar nomination and a second Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture Actor – Drama. O'Toole further established his good reputation by nabbing another Oscar nomination for his work in Herbert Ross' “Goodbye, Mr Chips” (1969), in which he showed his singing ability. As Arthur Chipping, opposite Petula Clark as Katherine Bridges, he also earned such awards as a Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture Actor- Musical/Comedy, a National Board of Review for Best Actor and a David di Donatello for Best Foreign Actor.
O'Toole's film career showed a decline in both quality and quantity during the 1970s, although he managed to receive an Oscar nomination and a National Board of Review for the comedy/musical “The Ruling Class,” and a Golden Globe nomination for another musical, “Man of La Mancha (both 1972). The main reason behind the setback was his heavy drinking that hurt his health. Known as one of Hollywood's most notorious party animals in his prime, O'Toole was forced to undergo surgery to remove parts of his stomach and intestine in 1976 and a year later, he almost died because of a blood disorder. Eventually, he decided to give up alcohol and tried to rebuild his career.
O'Toole made a victorious comeback in 1980 when he was cast in the starring role of director Eli Cross in “The Stunt Man,” a black comedy directed by Richard Rush. Offering a good performance, he took home his first Best Actor Oscar nomination after eight years as well as a National Society of Film Critics in the same category. He went on to make his American TV debut in the ABC miniseries “Masada” (1981), in which his portrayal of the Roman general won him an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series or a Special. O'Toole's subsequent big screen role, that of Alan Swann in the uproarious comedy “My Favorite Year,” (1982) again brought the actor an Oscar nomination.
After a series of TV work, including originating the role of Professor Henry Higgins on the Showtime film “Pygmalion” (1983), O'Toole resumed his film career by appearing in such vehicles as “Supergirl” (1984), “Creator” (1985) and “Club Paradise” (1986) and then in 1987, he was cast in the supporting role of Reginald Johnston in the Bernardo Bertolucci Oscar darling “The Last Emperor,” a performance that brought him a David di Donatello Award. Also in 1987, he recreated his TV role of Professor Higgins on the Broadway production of “Pygmalion.” O'Toole then worked with director/writer Neil Jordan in the comedy film “High Spirtits” (1988), played Professor McShoulin in “As Long as It's Love” (1989) and gained notice for his stage performance in “Jeffrey Bernard Is Unwell” (1989), by Keith Waterhouse.
Throughout the 1990s, O'Toole continued to enchant audiences with his performances in such movies as “The Rainbow Thief” (1990, reunited with Omar Sharif), the animated “The Nutcracker Prince” (1990, voiced Pantaloon), “Isabelle Eberhardt” (1991), “King Ralph” (1991, as Sir Cedric Charles Willingham), “Rebecca's Daughters” (1992), “The Seventh Coin” (1993), “Fairy Tale: A True Story” (1997, with Harvey Keitel and Jason Salkey), Dean Koontz's “Phantoms” (1998), “The Manor House” (1999) and “Molokai: The Story of Father Damien” (1999). On television, O'Toole was handed an Emmy for his scene-stealing role in the CBS miniseries “Joan of Arc” (1999), playing Bishop Cauchon. Other TV performances included being seen in the PBS film “Heavy Weathers” (1995) and the NBC miniseries “Gulliver's Travels” (1996). In 1999, O'Toole revisited the London stage in a revival of “Jeffrey Bernard Is Unwell,” which was made into a TV film later that same year with O'Toole co-directing the production with Tom Kinninmont. His stage performance won a 2000 Laurence Olivier Theater Award.
After making a guest appearance in an episode of the Richard Dreyfuss short-lived drama series “The Education of Max Bickford” (2002), O'Toole starred with Joan Plowright and Alicia Silverston in the independent movie “Rock My World,” which went straight to video release, and picked up a Cherbourg-Octeville Festival of Irish & British Film after playing the lead role of J.J. Curtis, an unprincipled TV game show host, in “The Final Curtain” (also 2002). The following years found roles in Steven Fry's “Bright Young Things” (2003), Wolfgang Petersen's epic “Troy” (2004, won an IFTA for his supporting role of Greek King Priam) and “Lassie” (2005, with Samantha Morton). He also had roles in the miniseries “Hitler: The Rise of Evil” (2003, earned an Emmy nomination as President Paul von Hindenburg) and “Imperium: Augustus” (2003) and “Cassanova” (2005).
Three years after receiving an Honorary Award from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, O'Toole nabbed his eighth Oscar nomination for his portrayal of Maurice, a veteran English actor, on “Venus” (2006), a comedy/romance directed by Roger Mitchell. A well-received performance, the veteran actor also took home several other award nominations, including a Golden Globe nomination, a BAFTA Film nomination and a Screen Actors Guild nomination. Later that same year, he also appeared as Samuel, the Prophet, on “One Night with the King.” The next year, O'Toole provided the voice of Anton Ego in the animated film “Ratatouille,” portrayed King in the adventure “Stardust” and guest starred as Pope Paul III in an episode of “The Tudors.”
Currently, O'Toole has completed filming “Thomas Kinkade's Home for Christmas” (2008) and the TV miniseries “Iron Road” (2008), directed by David Wu and also starring Sam Neill. He will also play roles in the upcoming movies “Dean Spanley” (2008, as Fisk Senior), “Love and Virtue” (2008, as Atlantes), “Out of the Night” (2008, as Don Giorgio) and “God's Spy” (2009).
Las Vegas Film Critics Society: Lifetime Achievement Award, 2006
IFTA: Best Supporting Actor in Film/TV, “Troy,” 2004
Savannah Film and Video Festival: Lifetime Achievement Award, 2004
Academy Award: Honorary Award, 2003
Cherbourg-Octeville Festival of Irish & British Film: Best Actor, “The Final Curtain,” 2002
Telegatto (Italy): Special Award Cult TV, 2002
Laurence Olivier Theatre: Outstanding Achievement Award, 2000
Emmy: Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie, “Joan of Arc,” 1999
David di Donatello: Best Supporting Actor, “The Last Emperor,” 1988
CableACE: Actor in a Dramatic Series, “The Ray Bradbury Theater,” 1987
National Society of Film Critics: Best Actor, "The Stunt Man,” 1981
National Board of Review: Best Actor, “The Ruling Class,” 1972
Golden Globe: Best Motion Picture Actor - Musical/Comedy, “Goodbye, Mr. Chips,” 1970
David di Donatello: Best Foreign Actor, “Goodbye, Mr. Chips,” 1970
National Board of Review: Best Actor, “Goodbye, Mr. Chips,” 1970
Golden Globe: Best Motion Picture Actor - Drama, “The Lion in The Water,” 1969
David di Donatello: Best Foreign Actor, “The Tonight of the Generals,” 1967
Golden Globe: Best Motion Picture Actor – Drama, “Becket,” 1965
Sant Jordi: Best Performance in a Foreign Film, “Becket,” 1965
Laurel: Top New Male Personality, 1963
Golden Globe: Most Promising Newcomer – Male, 1963
BAFTA Film: Best British Actor, “Lawrence of Arabia,” 1963